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Mon 2nd July 2012

St Oswalds Way - Weldon Bridge to Rothbury

St Oswalds Way - Weldon Bridge to Rothbury

The North East had been hit by flash floods just the day before but thankfully the Friday of the Rothbury Walking Festival was the day the weather changed for the better.

At last we had a bit of heat in the sun and the air did not hang as heavy as it had been doing before the sky ‘emptied itself’ the day before.

We met at Rothbury Tourist Information Centre in the morning, jumped on the minibus and had a short transfer to the start of the walk.

After all the rain we had I moved the starting point to Thistleyhaugh, which is about ½ mile down the trail. I did this so we missed the short section which ran right next to the River Coquet, which had been in flood twelve hours earlier.

After a quick overview about St Oswald’s Way we head off along the trail with the sun on our backs.

The first farm we reached (Brinkheugh) we were greeted by a shed full of ‘pet lambs’. These will have been lambs that have been taken off their mothers due to either being a ‘triplet lamb’. They certainly thought it was feeding time and we could not convince them otherwise.

We got the glimpses of the historic Brinkburn Priory on the other side of the river. This beautiful 12th century church of the Augustinian priory of Brinkburn survives completely roofed and restored as we continued on keeping to the higher ground to the south of the River Coquet.

Just after Thorneyhaugh we found a great sheltered spot for lunch and the whole group could sit back and enjoy the warm sunshine with great views of the Cragside Estate to our left and the River Coquet down below.

Pauperhaugh was then our first break after lunch before we rose up from the river to West Raw and then on to join and follow the old Rothbury Branch Line. This is a really impressive approach into Rothbury village as you pass through deep cuttings and a wonderful dry path under foot.

The group had all been great company and the weather really made for a great walk along this, one of my favourite sections of the 97 mile St Oswald’s Way.

Mon 2nd July 2012

Old Roads Upper Coquetdale

Old Roads Upper Coquetdale

Well Sundance had danced and soft shoe shuffled the night away in the hope that we did not experience another thunderstorm similar to Thursdays.

After a very bright and sunny start to the morning by the time the group had met up at Wedder’s Leap Carpark the clouds had built up with some ominous dark grey ones coming over the hills.

The walk started with a gentle stroll back down the road for about 15 mins until we came to a finger post just before the road crossed Dumbhope Burn.  The finger post  pointed up the hillside, after a shortish steep climb  the gradient eased until we had reached the crest of the col.  From here we had some good views all the way round.

Yet another non existing path lead us down from the col.  Eventually we found a way marker but even this did not help Mike who made us jump across the stream only to find a bridge some twenty metres further down stream. From here the path down was clearly visible and took us towards Carshope (a Farm now used by the army as a billet when on exercise).

After a lot of discussion about where we should stop for dinner, a suitable stone wall was found to be used as a back rest and in glorious sunshine we had lunch.  After lunch we walked to Carshope and then joined the valley road which we followed to Carlcroft Farm.

Using a footbridge we crossed over to the other side of the river and joined a footpath that climbed up diagonally up Hindside Knowe.  As we approached Stogie’s Cleugh  the path once more became none existent.  It was only when we crested the ridge and joined The Street that once more we had a path/track to follow.

A steep descent down The Street brought us to Slyme Foot and the valley road. We continued along the road to Windyhaugh Farm passing the site of a fulling mill (A dig will be taking place here later in the summer).

Once more we left the valley road walking through the famous hay meadows of Barrowburn Farm.  Even more famous now is the warm welcome and excellent food you find at Barrowburn Farm tea room. After a welcome coffee/tea and cake break we continued along the path to the camping barn originally the  School built in  the 1800’s before walking to the Wedder Leap footbridge and back to the cars.

Mon 2nd July 2012

Rothbury Forest

Rothbury Forest

This was was part of the Rothbury Walking Festival.

As usual Sundance had been doing the old soft shoe shuffle to conjure up a dry day with a little more in the way of desperation than normal.

A dull morning with dark threatening clouds had the shuffle worked?

The group met at Rothbury Tourist Information Centre and were sent off by Mike ( as he was not quite ready) to look at The Coquetdale Angler’s Carved Headstone and The Lord Armstrong Burial plot.  By the time we had looked at the cemetery we were ready to start, no, Mike needed to take a group photo.  Now we were off, down the steps across the footbridge and we followed the road up to Whitton  where we wittered about border raids pele towers, bastles and of course the folly Sharpe’s Tower.  At this point Jon overtook us on his Geo trail.

Leaving Hillhead road we started to follow St. Oswalds Way.  This first headed towards Whitton Dean and then started the long climb up to Lordenshaws Hillfort.  On reaching the hill fort we admired the ditches and remains of the ramparts before finding the remains of the foundations of a building (house?).  We next headed for a rock that was covered in cup and ring carvings.

Continuing along St. Oswalds we climbed over a small ridge and descended into Cualdhole Moss, fortunately the track was not to water logged, eventually arriving at an old Shepherd’s  cottage called Spylaw, which is looked after by Blyth Scouts.  This made for a good lunch stop (in warm sunshine).

After lunch the path to Blagdon Farm was none existent, fortunately Mike’s GPS kept us on the right line.  Although at one point it looked as if we would be headed off at the gate by some cows’ a stern look from Mike and they decided not to pursue the issue and we reached the field gate without any fuss.  As we approached the farm yard a shearer slammed a big gate shut just in front of us.  Not to keep us out but to keep the sheep in.  We then stopped while Mike had a chat to the farmer’s son while the rest of us watched as they sheared the sheep.

From Blagdon we walked down the farm track did a little zig and zag across a B road and headed for the Crook Crossing.  This is where the Rothbury –Morpeth old railway crosses a small road, it was just after this Mike gave us a choice of routes left or straight on.

Unfortunately we choose left as once more the path was non existent we kept being taken down a muddy and very boggy valley side to try to find the way down and across the Bog Burn!  Eventually Mike found the sort of ford to cross over but the rocks were incredibly slimy and slippery.  Once more Mike trying to be a hero stood in the stream and helped the ladies across (the creep).  Eventually we found a way marker that put us on the right course and we arrived at the Lee Siding.  According to Mike there was a siding for coal wagons but according to the lady of the house Mike was talking rubbish and there was not a siding.  If we looked in the field at the end of her house we could see the remains of the winding gear that was part of a rope way that brought coal to the siding from the Lee Pit across the valley.

We now followed a minor road to Brockley Hall farm originally a bastle  built in the 1600’s.  At East Raw we turned right, walked passed Butterknowes  (another bastle) and then onto Brinkburn Station.

We were now able to walk along the old railway line all the way back to Rothbury.  It was just before Wagtail farm that we experienced a light rain shower which did not really get any one wet and had stopped by the time we reached Rothbury.

So yes Sundance had more or less managed yet another dry walk.

Q. Would his luck continue to hold for his next walk on Friday?